#cottagecore – The Hashtag You Didn’t Know Your Garden Needed!

How to reach the “younger” generation…. We (as in those of us over 40) always talk about how we are going to reach them. Whether we are looking for employees that are interested in the green industry or looking for potential customers. An “old” style might just be the ticket.


If you aren’t familiar with this hashtag, you might be interested to know that there are currently over 1.7 million posts on TikTok that use it. I see this as an opportunity, an opportunity to grow more gardeners and future green industry professionals. While the overall ideal of #cottagecore is experiencing agrarian life, it merges beautifully with the Cottage Garden style.

peach colored flower
Chrysanthemum x ‘Campfire Glow’

In the late 1400’s, cottage gardens were originally the working man’s garden – gardens with limited space, gardeners with limited time, and function over aesthetic. Plant palettes focused more on the edible and medicinal with few flowers.

Fast forward 200+ years and flowers played a larger role. Gardeners began to realize that an abundance of flowering plants not only provided beauty but brought in pollinators. (What a concept!)

While vegetable areas were laid out in straight rows with bare soil in between, the rest of the garden had flowering plants grouped tightly together with no soil showing. The gardeners had limited funds and would trade plants with neighbors, allow for self-sowing of annuals and biennials, and even wild collect plants.

Cottage garden harvest

The focus was on plants. Gardens were biodiverse, organic in layout, and for the gardener – it was a lifestyle.

For myself, with an agricultural background, I understand the idea of lifestyle. It was just what you did to survive, and I vowed at a young age to enter any profession other than agriculture. You can see how well that worked out for me! I can relate to the nostalgia of #cottagecore. My 3.75-acre garden IS #cottagecore.

Whether you are a retailer or an installer – cottage gardening applies to you.

Geranium pratense ‘Boom Chocolatta’

Your DIY customers can easily relate to it, whether they garden on a balcony or a 1-acre property.  Overflowing container gardens with fantastic flowering combinations can be an easy transition for houseplant parents when they are ready to venture outside. The mixed borders of vegetables and ornamentals can provide more seasoned gardeners with the artistic outlet they are looking for. Experimenting with new combinations, harvesting their own cut flowers, growing their own food, and even creating their own secluded refuge from the busy world. 

For installation customers – the cottage style of Gertrude Jekyll is a frequent request, with lush borders and season long color. A bit of organized chaos within the plantings which are framed with structure of hedges, walls, or fencing.

blue flowers
Aster ‘Bluebird’ with Swiss Chard – combining edibles with perennials

Many times, these customers can benefit from “coaching” – if they maintain their own properties after installation, they might need the encouragement from a professional. Share with them how gardens are living things, they change, they grow, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way. They can add to the garden, and they can remove. And when the garden gives them too much and plants need divided – they can share with friends and neighbors.

Let’s start at the beginning – containers. For those plant parents who have every houseplant and want more! Hypertufa troughs planted with Dianthus, Iberis, and Festuca will provide an early spring show. Larger containers with Allium ‘Millenium’, Solidago ‘Golden Fleece’, and Stipa ‘Pony Tails’ can provide interest later in the season.

Allium and Peonies – common cottage garden plants

Next step – planting in the soil. Believe it or not, this can be a scary thing for new gardeners. Start small, but somewhere that can be enjoyed by the entire household. A basic sun combo of Baptisia australis, Liatris squarrosa, Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii, and Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ is certain to attract a host of bees and butterflies. Don’t forget to underplant! Sporobolus heterolepis or Carex radiata are excellent green mulch alternatives. Remember, plant close!

For the intermediate cottage gardener, add something a bit less common. Verbascum roripifolium is a see-through plant with yellow flowers on airy stems in summer through fall. Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ is a rust-colored Foxglove which will provide 6’ of joy throughout the summer. And Geranium pratense ‘Boom Chocolatta’ is a stunning bronze leaf geranium with blue-purple flowers (from Proven Winners).

yellow, pink, and white flowers in buckets
Cut flower harvest from the summer garden

And what will I be adding this year? Layers. Layering my garden not only from top to bottom, but from winter to fall. Adding plants like Hardy Cyclamen for winter interest, Salvia ‘Amistad’ for that long seasonal punch of blue, Coreopsis ‘Last Dance’ for that late fall yellow paired with hot Thai Chili Peppers, and container plantings with specimens like Mangave, Agapanthus, and even Cactus!

Cottage gardening is an experience, whether you grow for food, or beauty, or both. We can’t allow our industry to be stagnant with mulch volcanoes, and acres of non-purposeful lawn. We can do this.

This is the lifestyle, and the lifestyle is gaining momentum.

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